Khaby Lame has made a name for himself making comedy skits that mock overly complicated “life hacks” without authoring a word. Lame, 22, is now the most followed TikTok user in the world with over 164 million followers. Despite being the most followed TikTok user, he is still not the most paid influencer on the platform.
According to Forbes’s 2022 30 Under 30 Top Content Creator list, Lame is the eighth highest earner. His position also makes him the highest-paid black content creator under 30 years. Forbes estimates that he drew in $10 million in 2021, thanks to his social media stardom.
Lame’s money comes from endorsement deals and commercials. For instance, he was signed by Binance, the world’s largest platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, as a brand ambassador. He is expected to use his signature style to tackle some of the misperceptions around Web3 and also partner on exclusive NFT collections with Binance.
In addition, he has partnerships deals with soccer club PSG and fashion house Hugo Boss. Lame will star in campaigns surrounding Hugo Boss’ re-brand, and will also co-design a capsule collection with the fashion label as part of a multi-year pact, according to Peopleofcolourintech.
Khaby Lame started off as an industrial worker in Chivasso, Northern Italy. However, when COVID-19 struck, he became one of the many people who got laid off worldwide as a result of the impact of the contagion on businesses and the global economy.
The Senegalese moved from his country of origin to Italy when he was only one year old. Now 22, Lame speaks Italian, but he is not recognized as an Italian in Italy despite living in the country from age one and attending Italian schools.
In an interview with the New York Times, Lame revealed his successful social media career started when he spent several hours posting comedy clips on TikTok and the clips soon went viral. His most-watched video has over 158 million views.
The clip mocks a fellow TikToker who cut himself free from a car door shearing through his T-shirt. Lame makes the same video but instead of reaching for scissors to cut himself free, he simply opens the door to free himself and shrugs.
According to the New York Times, Lame’s earliest posts were in Italian although he sometimes spoke his native language. “But it was the wordless, expressive reaction clips — poking fun at forks transformed into spoons with tape or defending the sanctity of Italian pizza from a video that proposes Sour Patch Kids toppings — that have catapulted Mr Lame to international stardom,” according to the New York Times.
His rise on the social media platform has been entirely organic and his videos lack professional touch compared to other famous TikTok stars, some of whom have been approached by Hollywood. His content turns to mock or debunks overproduced content across multiple social media platforms.
“He almost represents this authenticity overproduction. I think that’s very appealing at scale to people, this feeling of someone not trying too hard, it’s something that feels authentic,” Samir Chaudry, a founder of The Publish Press, told the New York Times. The Publish Press focuses on covering the creator economy.
Lame told the New York Times that the success of his videos was due to the fact that he speaks a “global language.” “It’s my face and my expressions which make people laugh,” he added. According to him, he has a huge following in Brazil, the United States, and Senegal.